The Vintage Showroom: An Archive of Menswear
By Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett (£35, Laurence King)
Review by Belinda Morris
If you’ve ever wondered how fashion designers arrive at new ideas season after season (it’s not always about where they went on their holidays), wonder no longer – they mosey on down to The Vintage Showroom in Covent Garden. A cornucopia of iconic men’s vintage design, the vast and comprehensive collection is regularly drooled over by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and other designers and film costume people, who rent out some of the rarer pieces in particular as sources of inspiration for their new designs.
As the authors (the founders of the Vintage Showroom) explain in their introduction to what is actually a follow-up to their earlier book, “A collection from the Vintage Showroom’: ‘nostalgia aside there is a certain class to be found [in 50-year-old garments] that is increasingly difficult to find in today’s clothing.”
The 102 signature garments have been beautifully photographed – by Nic Shonfeld – from top to bottom, inside and out and in glorious detail. Some of the design elements may be redundant now, but they’re no less interesting for that.
The collection is divided into four sections: Avialtion & Motorsport; Formal, Tailoring & Military uniform; Utility & Workwear and Sporting & Weatherwear, with chosen pieces that range from flying coats to deep-sea divers’ kits. Some are labeled (Burberry, Belstaff, Burton, Barbour); some are of unknown origin; some have military labels and many others are bespoke, with dates going back as far as the 1880s (the French military’s Hussar tunic). All the images come with detailed explanations of the history of the garment, as well its construction and the materials used – although from time-to-time the authors have found themselves confronted with a conundrum.
It’s fascinating – read this and you’ll never look at a parka/flying jacket/raincoat/biker leathers/pair of jeans… in the same way again.